By STEPHEN WILSON, Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — IOC leaders will meet with British Prime Minister David Cameron this week to review final preparations for the London Olympics, including the delicate issue of which heads of state will be invited to the games.
With the opening ceremony just four months away, International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge will lead the delegation Wednesday to a meeting with Cameron at Downing Street.
The summit will be the centerpiece of the final inspection visit before the games by the IOC coordination commission, which monitors the host city's preparations for the Olympics.
Denis Oswald, chairman of the IOC commission, told The Associated Press on Monday the talks with Cameron would cover "the aspect of the different heads of state who are going to come."
"There are some protocol aspects to discuss," Oswald said in a telephone interview from Switzerland.
Oswald said he did not know how many world leaders will be attending the opening ceremony July 27, noting that heads of state are invited by their own national Olympic committees or the host country.
"We are pretty sure a large number will come," he said. "It's really something that is left to the organizing country, but certainly there will be some difficult decisions to make for the British government. It's up to them to determine who will be invited and who will be accepted."
One leader who definitely won't be attending is Syrian President Bashar Assad. The U.N. says more than 8,000 people, many of them civilian protesters, have been killed since his regime launched a crackdown on the opposition a year ago. Assad and dozens of other Syrian officials are covered by sanctions, including a European Union travel ban.
"He will certainly not be invited," Oswald said. "I don't think he will take the risk of being rejected."
Assad's British-born wife, Asma, was also recently hit with a European travel ban but it's unclear whether she can still enter the U.K. with her British passport.
Cooperation among various security services traveling with the heads of state will also be discussed during the London meetings.
"Most of their heads of state come with their own security people," Oswald said. "We remember in Beijing when (President George W.) Bush and the Chinese president were together at the basketball and there were some kind of fights between the two services. We want to avoid that and have a clear understanding."
The White House announced this month that first lady Michelle Obama will lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympic opening ceremony. There has been no word of President Barack Obama attending the games, something which would come as a relief to security planners.
Oswald and IOC executive director Gilbert Felli will accompany Rogge to the meeting with Cameron. The full IOC coordination panel has been invited for lunch at 10 Downing Street after the talks.
Oswald and Felli also plan to visit the Olympic Stadium in east London to review plans for the opening ceremony, which is being masterminded by "Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle.
The IOC officials will meet with London organizers through Friday, the 10th and final visit by the full coordination group since the city was awarded the games in July 2005.
Oswald said he could return with a small IOC group to London ahead of the games "if it's needed."
"We are very happy with the preparations," he said. "On our dashboad, we mainly have green lights and a few yellow. We will ask a few questions, but nothing is orange or red."
Among the issues on the table, as always, will be transportation — the challenge of keeping the city moving and getting spectators to and from the Olympic venues on the city's already strained public transit networks.
"Until the end, this is something that will require full attention," Oswald said. "It's nothing new. They have developed plans, but they are now even more precise than a few weeks ago. We are confident."
Security also remains a priority.
"They inform us about the plans, but obviously the less we speak about it, the better," Oswald said.
Overall, with the Olympic venues ready and the $14.7 billion public sector project within budget, the IOC is fully satisfied.